Trimble 5601 DR200 + TSCe + Survey Controller v10.80 compatible?

  • Trimble 5601 DR200 + TSCe + Survey Controller v10.80 compatible?

    Posted by JesseG on March 9, 2023 at 6:16 am

    Good day,

    I’m just an electronics hobbyist and I’ve really been enjoying tinkering with old electronic total stations from ebay.

    Recently, I got a Geodimeter 140 and a Geodimeter 4400 Robotic, which is kind of fun.

    (The 140 is a real blast from the past. The scope is hazy, looks like the glue between the lenses is separating. But the thing seems to work!)

    Now I got a Trimble 5601 which I expect is probably toast but would like some confirmation.


    I’m trying to get it to work with a Trimble TSCe with Trimble Survey Controller v10.80  at 9600 baud, no parity.

    The 5601 came with the 4-pin-to-4-pin cable, a battery adapter with two 4-pin recepticals, and a 4-pin-to-standard-9-pin-RS232 cable so I can plug the TSCe to the RS232 from the 5601, while simultaneously powering the 5601.

    Unfortunately, the 5601 came with no keyboard/display, just the cover plate with the single power button.

    Pressing the power button on the 5601 causes it to make a few brief faint sounds (EDM) after which turning the knobs causes the servos to run, so that part is working.

    However, the TSCe just sits and says “Please wait, connecting to total station.”

    I have confirmed that the TSCe has valid RS232 signals on the 9 pin RS232  port, and that it’s sending out a data burst every second or so when it’s attempting to connect to the 5601.

    I have also confirmed that the 5601 is also providing valid RS232 voltages on it’s side, and that the RX/TX pins are correct (i.e. the RX of one side goes to the TX of the other side, etc.)


    The TSCe/Survey Controller does list “5600 3500…” as an option under “Survey” so I assume these two things should work together.


    So what is likely going on? Is TSCe/Survey Controller v10.80 with the style “5600 3500…” not compatible with a Trimble 5601?

    Or is the 5601 most likely brain dead due to having the internal battery run flat?

    In the latter case, is there any chance of getting the firmware file and Trimble Data Transfer Utility and loading in the firmware?

    My suspicion is that I have a fancy and very bright yellow robotic paperweight, which is what I suspected when I got it off of ebay. (But, I can still do other cool stuff with it if all else fails. The optics are good and sharp and I can control the motors from my own microprocessors to at least turn it into a remote pan/tilt camera lens with good magnification!)

    Any insight would be most gratefully absorbed!

    All the best & thank you very much,


    JesseG replied 1 year, 2 months ago 2 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • OleManRiver


    March 11, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    Does the 5601 have on the side and top a place for a radio antenna.  It might be simply in tge controller its looking to connect via radio. What you want and darnet I can’t remember all the menus and settings in the survey style is to set it in manual total station mode. Since it seems you are connecting directly to the 5600 via cable.  The 5600 series was nothing more than a yellow painted geodometer. The early ones didn’t use survey controller but a plane cpu that one could program to record data in whatever order or format they wanted. As technology progressed and Trimble got them set up to run ia survey controller and TDS which TDS became Survey Pro  also carlson and other software would run them. I have a old quick field guide i helped create years ago for them at my office  i am trying to remember but something along tge lines of a setting to run like a total station vs robotic mode  i will see if i can scan it in next week when i am back at office . I probably have a manual on it as well  sorry its been so many years and all the bugs and fixes run together in my head. 



  • OleManRiver


    March 11, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Oh if you are electronic inclined. If you can figure out how to save to firmware on that 5601 and swap the internal battery i am sure several people would love that as trimble no longer does that and once the internal battery goes all memory is lost and you do have a Purdy paper weight.  

  • JesseG


    March 11, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    @olemanriver Yeah, that’s what I was thinking! I’m I suspect mine probably has gone battery-flat-brain dead. Why else would someone sell it cheap in apparently perfect cosmetic condition? However, I have not actually measured the battery voltage, but will do so. If I figure any way to backup/restore firmware I’ll definitely let you all know!

  • JesseG


    March 11, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    @olemanriver Thank you so much! I would be most grateful for any tips, guides, or clues you might happen to rummage up, but no rush certainly, this is just a for-fun project for me! (And the most likely problem with a 20+ year old Geodimeter/Trimble is of course battery death!)

    In answer to your question, I did not see any connector of any type other than the four pin power/serial plug at the base. (Ham radio operator, so I would recognize an antenna connector too! :D)

    I have seen pictures of these with the radio feature version of the side panel, but mine has just a plain plastic side panel (which I did remove and inside is just a large empty space and a data plug inside where the radio module would connect if I had one.)


    So I’m pretty sure it was just used by RS232 and/or the CU keypad unit that can clip onto the front (which is also missing. But it does have the yellow cover plate with the single power button, so I suspect it had been being used with a TSC of some sort.)

    And it is providing -12v signaling on it’s 4 pin power/data plug, so I know it’s got RS232 inside there ha ha!

    I need to plug it into a computer and just see if I get any data prompt or response or anything on the serial port.

    As a side note, if anybody has any information on the Rs232 data protocol I would be delighted to take a peek at that!

    Thanks again,



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